It’s all I’ve been hearing about for the past few days, and I am, without a doubt, jealous as all get-out. Eric Turkewitz is going to be the official White House Law Blogger. Yes, the Turk, and not me. So much for that “hopey thing,” right? Still, to be the first official White House Law Blogger is, well, something big. Huge actually.
It’s not going to be all peaches and cream, however. I’ve heard from an old pal inside the White House press secretary’s office that they are none too pleased by the newest member of the administration. They are scared to death that they now have a loose information canon on their hands after reading his body of work. They probably don’t realize that Turk couldn’t think of anything else to blog about, now that his usual staple of fantasy baseball, personal injury law and Findlaw masturbation are off the table.
It seems that the core problem is that the enlistment of Turk as digital law flack for the administration puts him outside the grasp and control of Robert Gibbs, the President’s press secretary and secretarial school namesake. As any good PR pro knows, you can’t control the noise coming from those outside your grasp, and when it comes to the dissemination of information, there’s nothing more important than control..
The equation, I’m told, is that because “law blogger” includes the word “law”, Turk will be under the watchful eye of the White House Counsel rather than the press office. I guess the word “blogger” didn’t match any word on the current White House press secretary’s grocery list.
But Gibbs isn’t fooled. He knows that blogger means that Turk gets to spread information, and information (even about law) comes back to him. This is being seen as a seriously mess by the Gibbs folks, enough so that Gibbs would pull his hair out if it wouldn’t impair his otherwise stylish coif. The message sent to me was that Gibbs wants Turk to quietly go away, as if it never happened.
It remains unclear why the Obama administration would have selected a second tier blogger, and a writer whose talents are more suited to lame humor or tepid critique, to fill what strikes me as a critical niche. From what I hear, it’s largely because Eric is seen as a straight shooter, someone who is trusted in the blawgosphere to be an honest broker, if not a particularly insightful or foreful voice.
Can Obama really be that naive? How hard is it to be straight shooter on subjects involving deposing the Pope? If it wasn’t for his brother’s ability to get Justice Antonin Scalia all chatty, chances are that Turkewitz would have folded up the old blawgospheric tent by now and been off to twitter-marketing land. Nobody in the Obama White House would have even known who he was.
There will no doubt be enormous pressure for the Turk to toe the party line, but since Eric won’t be answering to Gibbs, there’s no telling what might come out of his keyboard. Let’s face it, circumspection is no more his strength than the strict adherence to talking points, especially when they make no sense at all. I can see Turk collapsing in a puddle of goo during his first interview and giving away the nuclear codes, as if they would let him know them.
On the other side, Gibbs will be left to stand up in front of that nasty White House press corp to explain why the official White House Law Blogger wrote . . ., well, whatever he’s going to write. Seriously, let’s just hope Turk can keep it clean. This country has enough problems.
So yes, I’m jealous that Turk got the gig, even though my longevity in an official blogging capacity would have made a fruit fly laugh. But I’m surely not too upset about being out of the crosshairs of the White House press secretary. Turk may get to create this brand new office in his own image, but any appreciation that may come his way may well have to be delivered posthumously. They are that angry in the White House press office.
Update: According to the political blog, Beyond the Beltway, Turk came to the Obama administration’s attention when he caught a little goof in Sonia Sotomayor’s description of her law practice as “law offices (plural). And like me, Orin Kerr at Volokh, questions the sanity of selecting Turkewitz for the post. Of course, Kerr prefers somebody named Marty Lederman, whoever he is.